These are some real problems experienced by ST9120821AB and Seagate hard drives in general that we see in our lab. We are not affiliated in any way with hard drive manufacturers. All the information below is based solely on our experience and we do not make any claims regarding reliability of the specific model. We see mostly failed drives in our lab and therefore we don't have complete statistics.
The drive was left unused for about 18 months, i came to power up the machine it was in as i needed some photos off it and a couple of old maintenance scripts. Drive is marked as Seagate(model ST9120821AB). I am not in any really hurry, the drive had windows 98 set up on it, it was in a dual boot system as master with an XP install along side (on another drive that is fine)
Seagate Barracuda drives, and especially 7200.7, 7200.8, 7200.9 and 7200.10 series have a very common problem with heads. Seagate introduced new technology in this line - special coating for the platters that was supposed to protect magnetic layer. But in fact it caused more problems than protection. Under special conditions this coating starts to flake and tiny bits of this substance stick to the head read/write elements. Reading becomes more and more unstable, the drive starts losing tracks and at some point typical symptoms or bad heads appear - clicking, knocking, sweeping sounds: , , making the data inaccessible.
Typically data recovery in this case involves opening the drive in class 100 clean room and replacing head assembly from matching donor. But our engineers have developed special technological process for cleaning the heads and quite often it is sufficient to temporarily repair them for successful recovery. The fact that we often don't need to order donors for such drives makes data retrieval in our lab less expensive for our customers.
I was hoping I could fix the problem myself with a PCB swap and I was able to buy the exact same drive model with matching code on the PCB, both from the same country and built within 3 months of each other. The PCB swap did not solve my problem
Almonte, Ontario, Canada
Another common issue with Seagate hard drives is damage to the components on the circuit board(PCBA). Hard drives in general are very vulnerable to overheating, power spikes and surges. Bad power supply unit combined with power streak is usually enough to burn spindle motor controller driver(SMOOTH chip) on the logic board. If this occurs the computer would reboot itself or shutdown completely, you would normally notice acrid smell and when powered on the drive would not spin up at all.
Non-spinning could also be a symptom of seized motor on multi-platter Seagate Barracuda drives. The drive would also make buzzing sound like it's trying to spin up. Data recovery in this case requires transplanting platters from bad drive into donor in clean room environment.
Seagate laptop Momentus drives also share some typical 2.5 inch HDD problems. One of them is heads sticktion to the platter surface.
Heads are normally parked on the parking ramp outside of the platters, but sometimes due to a fall or abnormal termination they fail to return to their regular parking position and are left on the surface. Immediately after the motor stops spinning they stick to the ideally smooth surface and it becomes impossible to release them without proper tools and experience. Don't attempt to open the drive by yourself - you will damage the platters for sure and this could make all your data unrecoverable.
The drive initiates by spinning up (no grinding noise) and goes through a few ticking noise as if reading the drive, but then stops and the drive spins down to zero RPM. It's a Seagate(ST9120821AB model).
There is one more problem that is typical for all hard drives: bad sectors. After some period of time magnetic media the platters are covered with starts to degrade and bad sectors develop.
Whenever the drive hits such unreadable bad sector it could start scratching, freezing, ticking and sometimes loud clicking: . This leads to further damage to the surface and causes more data loss. As soon as you start experiencing such symptoms while reading important files stop the drive immediately to prevent further data loss. In our lab we use special imaging hardware tools that are capable of reading raw sector data ignoring checksum check. That's usually the only way to retrieve as much data as possible from these sectors.
Seagate drives operate under special firmware microcode that could also fail sometimes. Typically hard drives with corrupted firmware spin up normally, do not click but still fail to initialize. Such drives could have one of the following symptoms:
HDD is not found in BIOS at all
shows up with wrong S/N or capacity,
fails to read any data or boot up operating system.
If you attempt to boot up from such drive or read any data from it you would get "Primary Master Hard Disk Fail", "No operating system found", "Drive Mount Failure", "Disk boot failure. Insert system disk and press enter", "USB Device malfunctioned", "S.M.A.R.T. Capable But Command Failed" or some other BIOS hard drive error message on boot. One of Seagate's latest family, Barracuda 7200.11, specifically with FW versions SD15, DE12 and HP24, has especially high firmware failure rate. In such cases hard drive either doesn't show up in BIOS at all or identifies with 0 capacity. Unfortunately it is impossible to repair such drives without special equipment capable of accessing and repairing firmware modules in the hard drive firmware zone.
If you experience any of the symptoms described above with your Seagate ST9120821AB please feel free to contact us to get upfront quote on data recovery from your failed drive.
If you hear your Seagate hard drive making some other unusual noises visit our Hard Drive Sounds page for more examples.
We have seen a number of websites lately cloning information from our pages.
Stay away from those companies. They can steal information but they can't steal knowledge and experience.
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